Book Reviews

Book Review: Invasion Alaska by Vaughn Heppner

One of my favorite genres to read is “alternate history.” Although much of that is written about events of the past, on occasion futuristic “alternate history” comes out and makes for a good read. An Amazon suggestion for me, based on my history of reading those books was Vaughn Heppner’s Invasion series, taking place in the not-too-distant future.

The first book in the series is Invasion Alaska. It’s the year 2032 and the problem of global warming is no more. Instead, the world has gotten colder due to several factors including some hyperactive volcanoes. The US is a weakened state, having dealt with an economic crash that makes it one step up from a third-world country. The one thing it still has that everyone wants is the mid-western bread-basket.

China is perhaps the strongest country in the world, but its citizens are starving. Its leaders become convinced they can subjugate the US and take over control of the world food supply. They launch a military strike across Siberia and into Alaska.

Heppner is a fantastic writer, particularly for those who want the military details. I’m more story driven, so many of the military descriptions and details for the weaponry went over my head. For people who enjoy that, there’s plenty here. His attention to detail in these matters, particularly when it comes to futuristic weapons, makes what happens entirely conceivable, rather than dismissing the story as pure fantasy.

Like many writers in this genre, Heppner creates several characters in several different areas to follow the action. There is repetition at times when we encounter the character between segments, but overall they are good characters. We slowly get to know them – their assets and faults. There’s a history teacher with a father who’s been a burden his whole life. He is an unlikely hero defending Alaska as part of the home-grown defenders. There’s a down-on-his-luck oil worker sent on a security detail who ends up on the front lines of the invasion. In China, we meet leaders who are jockeying for political power and favoritism with the current Chairman. In Washington we have a President who is faltering, although he is trying. With a Chinese invasion, a local analyst has many of the keys to defeating them but will people believe her when she is half-Asian?

The action propels it along at a good pace as Heppner takes the reader through the invasion both on the offense and defense. There are mistakes and successes on both sides as China forges across the bleak Alaskan landscape.

My biggest problem is in the first book of the series the characters don’t seem to have a decent amount of depth to them. It’s hard to feel invested in them at this time. As I go through more books in the series that changes, but right now it’s just really hard to feel like I’m rooting for certain people other than the fact that they’re Americans.

Heppner has crafted a great story, though. It was slow going at this point, but the book was exciting and I enjoyed reading it. The character investment came later on. If you are the type that likes the details of weaponry and other military apparatus, this will please you most. Imagining weaponry 20 years out from when this book was written can be a lot of fun and Heppner is believable because of the details.

I enjoyed Invasion: Alaska, although I was tempted to quit the series after this one because of the heavy on the military details. That’s not my strong point. It rose in my estimation as I read the subsequent books because he builds so well on the events here and the characters. If you like thrillers that imagine futuristic weaponry and wartime conspiracies, this is a good read.

Next book in series (link):

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